Much has changed at Six Flags Over Georgia. But as the park celebrates its 50th season, one thing has remained constant: the screams that reverberate along the midway.
“We’ve managed to always be on the cutting edge of thrills,” says Dale Kaetzel, park president. In 1967, the state of the art was the Dahlonega Mine Train, one of the earliest steel coasters of its kind. Climbing 37 feet and hitting a top speed of 29 mph, the ride is still eliciting screams today. But the shrieks are probably louder at some of Six Flags’ more modern behemoths. For example, Goliath, which rises 200 feet and is known as a “hypercoaster,” accelerates to a pulse-pounding, bugs-in-your-teeth, G-force-crazy 70 mph. “The definition of thrills has changed through the years,” Kaetzel says. “But our ability to deliver them has not.”
Walt Disney may have pioneered the modern theme park. However, Angus Wynne, the founder of Six Flags, is credited with inventing what is now known as the regional theme park. He opened Six Flags Over Texas a few years after Disneyland debuted. Like Disney’s park, Six Flags has themed lands and costumed characters (Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes pals stand in for Mickey and the gang). But its focus on thrill rides has made the brand synonymous with scream-inducing roller coasters.
The second park in the chain, Six Flags Over Georgia today boasts 11 coasters. Among its arsenal: Mind Bender, one of the first modern-day looping coasters; Batman: The Ride, an inverted coaster in which the train hangs suspended from the track and passengers’ feet dangle; and Superman — Ultimate Flight, a flying coaster that places riders in a nearly prone position to mimic the soaring superhero.
One of the park’s…